The Truth About Cars » hilux The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 24 Jul 2014 14:26:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » hilux Capsule Review: Toyota HiLux Surf (United Nations Edition) Tue, 15 Oct 2013 12:00:38 +0000 Diesel and Baby Blue to strike fear into the hearts of our enemies

Diesel and Baby Blue to strike fear into the hearts of our enemies

The durability of the original Toyota HiLux, known in the United States as simply “Truck,” is the stuff of legend, especially if you enjoy Top Gear. It often seems that only rust can kill these simple but durable pickups, which means that in areas where rust does, in fact, sleep, they are effectively immortal. My daily ride in Abu Dhabi is a Fortuner, the HiLux’s Asian cousin.

But this isn’t my first foray into Toyota reliability. My graduate level work in this field came from my time as a UN Unarmed Military Observer (UNMO) on a peacekeeping mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea in 2004. The patrol vehicle dejuir was the Toyota HiLux Surf (aka the 4Runner). But rather than the V-6, the UN standard issue at the time was a 4 cylinder turbo diesel mated to a 5 speed manual.

A never ending array of different driving styles from around the world ensured these trucks were well worn long before I got there. Some succumbed to landmines;


The occupants were amazingly fine

The occupants were amazingly fine

This particular one died at the hands of a UNMO with no understanding of flash floods or rapidly moving water.


"What? The water isn't even over the hood, we'll be fine!"

“What? The water isn’t even over the hood, we’ll be fine!”

But the vast majority of them pressed on. They weren’t as slow as you’d expect, but the turbo lag on these trucks was awful. However, when they finally spooled, you knew it. My Russian navigator friend Vladimir and I perfected the proper way to leave the compound. Rev it and dump the clutch in the soft sand to spin the tires, this would build boost just in time for the shift to 2nd and simultaneous left turn exiting the compound.  The engine would be right in the sweet spot allowing you to walk the truck sideways up the road until you touched the redline while maintaining a totally sweet sand rooster tail.

Drifting comes to Ethiopia.


On pavement, this was a bit more challenging. The tires were willing, but the suspension did not cooperate very well with a controlled slide. We usually stuck to dirt. Once we mastered the gate exit, we perfectly our slide abilities traversing the main road to Manda, the regional command HQ for the Ethiopian Army.

Vlado and I became quite capable and despite the speed limit imposed by the on-board tattletale system, and could usually make the run in just under 50 minutes. This was not a comfortable trip and the road was only a road by the most liberal definition. But it was fun channeling your inner Colin McRae.

Our skill became an asset on one occasion. The Ethiopian Regional HQ insisted that our inspections could only take place when one of their subordinate commanders was present. To inspect one of the three troop camps within 15 minutes of our site, we had to make the hour-long one-way drive (with someone other than us) to Manda, pick up the Major, return to our village, approach the troop camp, be denied access, and then return the commander to Manda. So what was usually a 30 minute denial of access became an almost 5 hour denial. The intent, as it is so often in that region, was to make us too flustered to complete our job, or even ask. All of this was for not, because the inspections were always denied by local commander and we were unarmed.

Our Bosnian team leader had become increasingly frustrated. He decided that Vlado and I should pick up the Major. Before we left, we stuffed the rear seat belts deep into the seat. The ride we gave that Major back to our village of Bure was something most gearheads would pay money to experience. I am certain we were airborne at least twice. We arrived back at the site with the Major in under 90 minutes. A new record! Woot!

Of course, our inspection was denied, but we experienced a breakthrough. The Ethiopian Major spoke with our Bosnian Team Leader. It was agreed that we could conduct local inspections without leadership from the Ethiopian Regional HQ present.

Then he politely requested that someone else drive him back.

That will do little HiLux, that will do.

Road to Asab


W. Christian Mental Ward has owned over 70 cars and destroyed most of them. He is a graduate of Panoz Racing School, loves cartoons and once exceeded the speed of sound. As a result of his adventures in Ethiopia and Eritrea, he is currently seeking a publisher for his new diet book; “Food Poisoning and  Intestinal Parasites, the Key to a Slimmer You!”

]]> 27
Piston Slap: Dash The Passat for The Road Not Taken? Wed, 18 Sep 2013 12:52:25 +0000

TTAC Commentator MightyTall writes:

Hello Sajeev,

I’ve been reading your articles and enjoying your sage advice given to other people. And since you said you’re running low on submissions, here’s mine: I’m currently driving a well maintained reliable 140hp 2.0l Turbodiesel, 6-speed manual 2007 Passat station wagon … 157.000 km on the clock and no troubles.

I love the car and it loves me back, which is why I think I need an additional vehicle to do some dirty work. I hunt and thus often go to the woods on badly maintained dirt roads and occasionally logging road type terrain. While the Passat gives me no trouble getting there I think I’m putting undue wear on it and giving it the occasional “northwestern pinstripe” due to vegetation reaching out into the tracks. Hurts my insides watching the great car slowly getting beat up.

So what I’m thinking is, I want a SUV or Pickup Truck that fits the work environment… So no carpets, no shiny bits and pieces and as long as there isn’t rust I don’t even mind if it is already a bit battered. Now here’s the main issue, I’m 6’9″ (206cm) tall and 250 lbs … so I can’t just fit any sardine can.

Newer Japanese equipment is generally out of the question…why they shrink the insides of their vehicles in the light of demographics showing ever taller people is beyond me, but anything beyond Model Year 2000 ish seems to be smaller. Land Rover, one of my favourites, is also out … 5’8″ is the max one can be to drive those.

So really what I’m stuck with is Nissan Terrano I and II, the King Cab Pickup or their Mitsubishi and Toyota equivalents. Also Lada Niva might be interesting or if we go to more commercial type vehicles it would be a VW synchro Transporter van or box truck.

To recap, I want a basically bulletproof vehicle that is easy to keep clean and will last me several years without too much investment, preferably Diesel. Rust is a no-no since the TÜV is really adamant that no structural components be affected. SUV is also rather second choice due to the difficulty of cleaning in the cargo area and also the higher tax cost … Germany is really milking the high displacement Diesels.

If confronted with such choices and with a budget of about 5.000 € what would it be for you?


Sajeev answers:

Northwestern Pinstripe? Nice: here it’s known as “Texas Pinstriping.” It’s a mark of pride for those who do real work and I betcha you know that feeling. So thank you for writing.

I know pickups in the states, but Europe is a bit different. I’ve seen that episode of Mike Brewer’s Auto Trader where he helps with a truck purchase, so I will pretend to be an expert. And since I own a Ford Ranger, why aren’t you considering one? They got the goods, are priced extremely well and are more than plentiful. It’s the complete opposite of a Land Rover, in terms of your pocketbook, from what I see.

But do you really want a truck? I mean, an open air loading area is ideal for recently dead animals, but…

If the Passat takes you hunting everywhere, perhaps a body-on-frame vehicle is unnecessary.  Why not get one of those “El Camino looking” car conversions? VW, Ford, Opel, Peugeot and others take a passenger car platform to make exactly what you need. Unless you need more space in the (regular) cab, and that’s a big concern. Plus there’s even better hunting in even cooler places with a proper pickup!

So what’s my advice?  Buy any truck, but focus on the service history!  At this price, finding a vehicle with the best paperwork and least worn out tires/brakes/hoses/body damage etc. is your first priority.  I would test drive the Nissan, Mitsubishi, Toyota (and Ford and Isuzu/Opel) trucks and see which one you certainly do not like.  From there, find the one with the most service history and the normal wear items in the best condition.


Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

]]> 15
Hammer Time: Ramblings Of An Aspiring Kibbutznik Wed, 30 Jan 2013 15:47:18 +0000  
I must have been a kibbutznik in a past life. Whenever I buy something of value, I never have the urge to keep it for myself.

Perhaps it’s due to too many bouts of suburbia. A neighborhood with twenty lawnmowers. Thirty The Lion King videos, and fifty to seventy vehicles. All this redundancy seems to be a bit much for a guy who hates to see things unused by my family 98+% of the time.

Yeah. I know that most folks aren’t willing to share their ride. Some won’t even loan you Simba. But if I lived in a place where we all put a smaller chunk of our change into a ride, I wouldn’t go cheap . . . except for possibly an old Volvo wagon.

These would be my top picks. All used of course!

1st Gen Honda Insight
: These things are amazingly overengineered. The ride is surprisingly nice, mpg’s are 55+, the rear hatch can house an amazing amount of materials, and let’s face it, many rides require little more than two people these days. Did I mention these things only require two and a half quarts per oil change? Gotta love that.

Ford S-Ma
x(Euro-Spec Version): There’s something about a small diesel with superb handling, seven seats, and a shape designed for the wind that’s hard to turn down. I’ve heard so many good things about the Ford 2.2L that I would have to at least test this one. For the greater good of my fellow kibbutzniks of course. I’ll just have to make sure Baruth never gets the keys.

Toyota Land Cruiser
: I’m not thinking of the nice cushy ones that make Lexus seem unnecessary. I’m thinking about the ones that help fight wars. Heck. While we’re at it let’s throw in a couple of Toyota Hilux diesels into the mix as well. I relish the idea of buying utilitarian vehicles and not worrying about replacing them for a quarter century. Plus, if my neighbors ever have the misfortune of getting attacked by a few stone throwers, I want something that can hold a gun turret. Perhaps we can sell it as a Farago edition.

1st Gen Mazda Miata: 
Every kibbutz deserves a fleet of convertibles that can be thrashed about during odd hours and Sunday afternoons. Chryslers are definitely not my cup of tea for that purpose. Fords? I like the Mustang. Since Sajeev is still in love with a long list of old Fords I guess we should spring for just one of those. But no more! As for the Miata, I’ll take three. Preferably a 95′ to 96′ model with a stick and a long list of Murilee modifications.
Hmmm… I truly wonder what can be jammed in that four square feet of trunk space? Maybe a nuclear powered roto-plooker?

1970′s Malaise Era Whachamacallit:
 The type that can hold enough beer in the trunk for 30 odd friends and their associates. The type that sounds like a Harley once you saw off the catalytic converter. The type with a crappy cheap top that’s easy to replace, and a hood big and flat enough to serve as a bed for two at a moment’s notice. Throw in some thick leather interior adornments and a quartz clock (for Murilee’s sake), and you would have one hell of a vehicle for beer runs and random hooning.

Then we should consider all manner of bicycles, motorcycles, scooters, airplanes, golf carts, buses and catapults. A nice pair of running shoes. A lake. A river. A rowboat. A canoe. A kayak. A catamaran. A schooner. A tugboat. A yacht. A battleship!

Perhaps it’s time to start my own country. What about you? What transportation aplenty strikes your fancy in that, “Nice to have around… but I don’t want to own one.” kinda way?
]]> 22
And the Real Winner Is… Mon, 03 Oct 2011 08:53:30 +0000 Working in the 24 Hours of LeMons Penalty Box, the constant refrain of “Four wheels off” over the radio from the corner workers reporting miscreant drivers gets a little tedious. Hearing “Six wheels off,” however, really livens things up for us. That’s just one of the many benefits of having the Team Apex Vinyl Texas six-wheeled Toyota Hilux in a race.
This truck has been competing in Houston LeMons races for a couple of years now, but it never ran sufficient laps to qualify for the Index of Effluency (LeMons racing’s top prize) until this weekend. The problem lies in the engine; the Toyota R engine may be utterly bulletproof on the street or in a Third World combat zone, but 20Rs and 22Rs have one of the most miserable failure rates we’ve ever seen in LeMons (though the R is better than any other engine at running after a loose connecting rod has punched a huge hole in the engine block). In fact, only the Mitsubishi Astron and small-block Chevy can rival the Toyota R for LeMons futility, and we probably don’t need to discuss the handling peculiarities of a 34-year-old pickup with an extra axle. This time, though, the truck worked just fine; the Apex Vinyl ’77 Hilux did suffer a rocker-arm failure and lost an hour or two, but otherwise stayed on the track. When it was all over, the six-wheeler rolled to a 24th-place (out of 59) finish. Congratuations, Team Apex Vinyl Texas!

LTXF11-Winner-IOE2 LTXF11-Winner-IOE1 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 6
Launch Report: Toyota HiLux and Fortuner Sun, 17 Jul 2011 16:20:14 +0000

An extravagant ceremony at Bangkok’s Impact Arena has seen the launch of Toyota’s new Hilux and Fortuner – key models in its developing market portfolio. The pair are products with big, tough reputations, and importantly, the profit-generating ability to match.

The Hilux has unrivalled street cred as one of the workhorses of Asia, Africa and Latin America – its reputation for rock-solid reliability goes hand-in-hand with the hard-working image Toyota has painstakingly built up over decades. The Fortuner is its mid-size SUV spin-off – a developing-world successor to the old Hilux Surf/4Runner [Ed: please note, the Fortuner is not related to the 4Runner]. A focus on giving the Fortuner an integrated form means it looks, feels and acts like an SUV, with customers thus more inclined to overlook its less-refined underpinnings and a cab that feels almost exactly like its pick-up sister. With Toyota charging a good sized premium for the Fortuner over a Hilux, churning them out means churning out profits.

The new models come at a sensitive time for the Japanese giant, which finds itself under pressure from all flanks. Mass recalls over the last couple of years have dented its reputation for safety and reliability, while March’s tsunami swept the rug from under its domestic base, with ensuing knock-on effects across the globe. Meanwhile, Hyundai and Kia are looking to do to Toyota what it did to the American domestics some thirty years ago, and the Chinese remain a distant menace on the horizon.

Toyota was the first manufacturer to establish a presence in Thailand, almost fifty years ago, and has dominated the industry since, currently sitting atop a 40 percent market share (the market share of Japanese brands in total is 90 percent). It is worth noting that Thailand is the world’s largest 1-ton pick-up market and the second-biggest for all sizes of these utilitarian vehicles. And naturally, the Hilux sits right at the top of the tree. Last year 165,000 units were sold in Thailand alone with its only serious challenger Isuzu’s D-Max, a little under 25,000 units adrift. (The third best-seller, Mitsubishi’s Triton, is the best of the also-rans, only just managing to break the 30,000 barrier.) Worldwide, the Hilux is sold on 113 countries, selling more than 2.3 million since 2004, when the current Hilux and its Fortuner offspring were released.

Predictably, the story of the new Hilux is one of evolution, with Toyota’s R&D operations in Japan, Thailand, Taiwan and Australia all pitching into the program. The Hilux has always had to be many things to many people, and with the new model an emphasis has been placed on tweaking the pick-up for different markets, with ‘one-size-fits-all’ no longer fitting the bill. Indeed, during the launch presentation, the slides made the point that in Thailand, the Hilux will rarely see a hill worthy of the name, while in Latin America it is forced to pound never-ending constant gradient inclines. In Thailand the Hilux is a daily driver – the supermarket car parks are full of its ubiquitous shape – while in South America, it is more likely to be a recreational toy. Sardonically, the slides noted a Thai propensity for ‘overload’, with a clutch of images that would not out of place in a typical ‘crazy loads’ PowerPoint email circular. And that’s without even getting onto ‘technicals’ – notwithstanding the impact of the Chinese in this segment, the Hilux remains the vehicle of choice amongst any self-respecting freedom fighter or terrorist with sufficient folding.

‘Radical’ an is not a word that immediately springs to mind when playing word association with ‘Toyota’ – ‘improving the box’ is, as ever, the name of the game. Cosmetically, the Hilux gets a new front clip, evolved from the design language of the outgoing model. Mr. Kaoru Hosokawa, Chief Engineer of Toyota, is in town for the launch, said that they have aimed for a “tough” and “modern” appearance, while the new headlights apparently imbue a “sporty” feel. The side-on changes seek a “more powerful” look and a sensation of “forward motion”, while at the rear, sharper, more fashionable tail lights are slotted in. In the cab it’s still a sea of hard plastics, but effort has been made with the detailing and there is a new instrument cluster. Half of all Hiluxes in Thailand are bought as private cars, so there has also been a focus on improving comfort. For this market, the new model gets softer springs, aimed at improving the ride.

Under the bonnet the powerplants and transmissions are essentially the same as before, the key innovation being the incorporation of Toyota’s “Diamond Tech” system. Not, in fact, a ’70s disco band, Diamond Tech denotes a new system that allows the 32-bit ECU to more precisely detect operating conditions within the injection system, improving fuel efficiency. New injectors feature a new “diamond-like” carbon coating that makes the process more efficient, as well as lengthening the life of the injectors and related combustion process components. The variable-geometry turbo also sees its relationship with the ECU improved, for a faster flow of more detailed information.

The Fortuner, meanwhile, arrived in 2004 and raised the low-cost SUV game significantly with a much more integrated SUV design language compared to the preceding 4Runner, which always retained a look of the ‘backyard conversion’ about it. Developed in large part by Toyota’s Thai operations, the Fortuner has piggybacked the success of the Hilux and is now built in a number of countries including India, Argentina and Indonesia, although outside Thailand its success has been mixed.

Over the last half-decade, the Fortuner’s customers have grown more affluent and the focus of the new model was to “reflect the higher standing of customers in society,” said Hosokawa. So ‘luxury’ is the keyword. The new front clip has a bigger (and curiously Chrysler-alike) chromed grille, sharper headlights and a Toyota ‘family’ feel, although observers at the launch felt some of the SUV macho-feel had been taken out of the front end. The side is visually beefed up with bigger wheelarch guards, while the rear view receives uber-‘fashionable’ chrome-effect tail-lights. According to Toyota, focus has also been placed on improving the car’s ride, handling and high-speed stability.

The new models have mark-ups of around USD$300-600 across the ranges. The entry-level Hilux, which is now dubbed the Hilux Vigo Champ, kicks off at $16,187 and rises through single, extended and double cab versions – as well as high/lower rider, 2WD/4WD and manual/auto combinations – to a range-topping $32,600. The Fortuner starts at $35,200 for the 2.5 2WD, rising to $49,493 for the 3.0 4WD.

Both models face tough competition. Ford and GM will start producing their new Ranger and Colorado respectively later this year, and both raise the bar, offering big, tough, attractively-styled and well-specified alternatives to the swathe of Japanese brands which currently dominate Asia. Tempting Thais out of the Hilux will be a big task, but this pair should start the ball rolling. At the other end of the food chain, meanwhile, the Chinese are building low-cost pickups, and finding a ready market amongst those shopping for basic, abuse-ready transportation.

The now well travelled Fortuner also faces plenty of competition in the mid-size SUV segment from cars such as the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento and Ford Everest. Although Toyota still dominates its market, especially in Thailand, where the low depreciation of the Toyota is a source of reassurance for buyers, time will tell if the new one is good enough to keep its manufacturer in front.

Cristiano Ronaldo is to be the face of the new Hilux in Thailand, an entirely appropriate choice in a country that is soccer crazy, injecting a bit of international glamour into Toyota’s staid image. However, the Real Madrid star won’t be endorsing the new pick-up in any of the other 112 markets it’s sold in, since, as Toyota honchos admitted, the multimillionaire was simply “too expensive”. Production capacity for both models will be raised in Thailand ahead of an expected spike in sales.

Edd Ellison is a Thailand-based auto journalist, covering the ASEAN markets and beyond. He can be contacted at

hiluxlaunch1 hiluxlaunch4 Not a 4Runner... (all photos courtesy: Edd Ellison) hiluxlaunch3 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail hiluxlaunch5 hiluxlaunch2

]]> 13
Toyotas, The Taliban And Maple Leaf Tattoos: An Unusual Tribute To The Toyota Hilux Fri, 15 Oct 2010 16:44:54 +0000

From conflict-torn Afghanistan [via Newsweek] comes this strange tale of Taliban tribute to the “the vehicular equivalent of the AK-47″: the Toyota Hilux (more famous among Western car nuts for its infamous Top Gear adventures).

As the war in Afghanistan escalated several years ago, counterinsurgency expert David Kilcullen, a member of the team that designed the Iraq surge for Gen. David Petraeus, began to notice a new tattoo on some insurgent Afghan fighters. It wasn’t a Taliban tattoo. It wasn’t even Afghan. It was a Canadian maple leaf.

When a perplexed Kilcullen began to investigate, he says, he discovered that the incongruous flags were linked to what he says is one of the most important, and unnoticed, weapons of guerrilla war in Afghanistan and across the world: the lightweight, virtually indestructible Toyota Hilux truck.

“In Afghanistan in particular,” he says, “[the trucks are] incredibly well respected.” So well respected, in fact, that some enterprising fraudsters thought them worthy of ripping off. The imitations, Kilcullen says, had flooded the market, leaving disappointed fighters in their wake. But then “a shipment of high-quality [real] Hiluxes arrived, courtesy of the Canadian government,” he explains. “They had little Canadian flags on the back. Because they were the real deal, and because of how the Hilux is seen, over time, strangely, the Canadian flag has become a symbol of high quality across the country. Hence the tattoos.”

And yet somehow, we don’t see Toyota incorporating this touching story into its marketing campaign. From Afghanistan to Somalia, and from Nicaragua to Chad, the Hilux has been the ride of choice in conflict-torn hellholes for several decades now. A conflict between Libya and Chad in the 1980s was even dubbed “The Toyota War.” A former British special forces officer explains

The appeal is pretty simple. You can’t underestimate the value of having a vehicle that is fast, will never break down, and is strong enough to mount a heavy weapon in the back.

Which isn’t all that different from the Hilux’s original design concept as

a lightweight truck with big tires on big wheels. It was meant as a recreational truck, a truck people could have fun with. They also have a really high ground clearance, which means they’re ideal for off-road work.

The modern Hilux may “suck to drive” according to TTAC’s lone review of the “insurgent special,” but then the AK-47 isn’t exactly known for its accuracy either. Still, it’s no wonder that the US-market Tacoma ditched the solid-front axle in 1986… American trucks are built for the road, not armed insurgency (although our middle-east correspondent informed us a few years ago that US service men were stripping Hilux manual transmissions, forcing the military to replace them with Silverado Z71s) . Curious as to what makes the Hilux different from the US-market Tacoma? has your answers here. Want to check out some American Hiluxes, soldiering on as Curbside Classics? Check it out.

]]> 30
Curbside Classic: 1975 Toyota Hilux Pickup Thu, 04 Feb 2010 20:51:36 +0000

After a deep immersion in cheap, plastic (un)fantastic Toyota electronic gas pedal assemblies, we need to swing the friction arm pendulum way far the other direction; right into a cast iron Hilux pickup. The only electronics in these would be a handful of transistors in the radio, if it even had one. If there had to be a vehicle to keep running indefinitely, I couldn’t think of a better choice. And I’m obviously not the only one: there are dozens of these on the roads hereabouts, being used daily by thrifty gardeners, carpenters, handy-men, and just homeowners wanting a weekend dump-run truck. There’s no question in my mind; if I wasn’t so tall and didn’t like a big bed, I’d be driving one of these instead of my old F-100. 

The one thing I find interesting is that there’s so many of this particular vintage, the gen2 Hilux, which was made from ’73 through ’78. But I haven’t seen a gen1 Hilux in ages. There’s probably quite a few of them in California, where they were strong sellers in the early mini-truck wave. But its also true that Datsun really created this market in the US, and its early trucks were its best sellers in the early-mid sixties. And Datsun maintained its lead over Toyota with its popular Li’l Hustler trucks until probably well into the seventies, although I don’t have the numbers at hand.

In fact, Toyota didn’t sell a “compact” truck to compete directly against the Datsun until the Hilux arrived in 1968. But what they did have is something I used to lust after, the first “mid-size” truck, their Stout 1900. I’m using the words “compact” and “mid-size” in relation to their times, when the Datsun was minute, and the Stout was probably about the size of the previous Tacoma. But its cab and bed were more me-sized, and it made a nice step up from the tiny Datsuns.

The Stout already wore the mantle of Toyota ruggedness, and not just in name only. Obviously, all these old vehicles were prone to rust in the snow belt. But the Stout and these old Hiluxes were simple; solid and well made. I helped a friend rebuild the old OHV four from one of these Stouts; it looked a lot like my Ford six, minus a couple of pots.

The Hilux used a newer OHC four, the legendary R Series. And the ones made prior to 1983 are considered to be the must rugged and reliable of the family. After ’83, Toyota eliminated the bulletproof dual-row timing chain for a single-row unit that had problems with the chain tensioner. That might explain why there are so many of this particular vintage. The R20 and R22 (dual-row chain) are legendary in their ability to keep running for practically forever. The later R22E made quite a rep for itself too.

I’ve thrown in a smattering of pictures of these trucks, including some camper versions. The Chinook camper was a huge hit in its day, and because it’s riding on the Hilux, there’s still a fair number of these around. It has a pop top, which made it a viable alternative to the increasingly expensive VW Westfalia camper. Nothing quite like them has ever been made since, and they still have a loyal if dwindling following.

I don’t remember a significant number of cab-over sleeper campers like this one in its time. When Toyota came out with a heavy duty dually chassis in the next generation, they became massively popular, especially in the early eighties gas crunch era. Some of them were pretty massive, and until the V6 came along in 1988, they were badly underpowered with the 90 hp four. But I still see some trundling along in the summertime.

The real problem was in overloading the chassis. Some of these rigs were pushing the limits of the design strength empty, and when folks piled in with all their stuff and toys, rear axles started breaking. Toyota saw the writing on the wall in terms of warranty and more serious safety liability risk, and sometime in the nineties they abruptly pulled the plug on selling bare chassis to RV manufacturers.

I’ve saved my favorite Hilux for last, the foam-mobile. I’ve seen this around for as long as I’ve lived in Eugene. I grabbed one shot as it was pulling out of a parking lot, and then I ran into it recently in an industrial area, where the owner apparently had secured camping/parking privileges, I assume. I used to think it started out as a Chinook, but the windows location and size are different. Who knows what lurks under that layer of sprayed on foam; maybe even a home-built plywood box. But it seems to be holding up, and it probably doesn’t take more than her dog’s hot breath to keep it warm and cozy in the winter. And if I had to guess, it’s going to be around for quite a while yet.

I have a lot of accumulated respect for Toyota, and my xB reminds me quite a bit of old-school Toyota simplicity. But their new trucks leave me cold. The new Tundra has a profoundly cheap interior, and that feeling extends to the rest of it. I’m not going to get into a anti-Tundra rag here, but the change from the previous Tundra/T-100, as well as the older Tacoma and earlier pickups is mighty palpable. If the crappy and cheap gas pedal assemblies I’ve been seeing in my dreams at night are any indication of their overall build quality, I doubt strongly that there will be 2010 Tundras hard at work on the streets of Eugene in 2045.

]]> 25